Dejima was a fan-shaped artificial island of about 15,000 square meters built in 1636 under orders from the Tokugawa Shogunate to intern Portugese residents of Nagasaki and thus to prevent the spread of Christianity. The Portugese were expelled from Japan in 1639, leaving the island empty, but the Dutch East India Company factory in Hirado was transferred here in 1641 and for more than two subsequent centuries the island served as Japan’s only link with Europa and gateway for Western technology and culture.
The living quarters and warehouses of the Dutch factory employees studded the island, and open space was used to keep animals and cultivate various plants. Projects were launched in the late 19th century to reclaim land from Nagasaki Harbor and resulted in the loss of the island. In 1922, however, the Japanese government designated Dejima as a National Historic Site in view of the role it played in the modernization of Jagan and its status as an invaluable historical and cultural asset.